Persian food to give you all the feels at Berenjak…

Date nights are the best nights.

Doesn’t matter if they’re taking place with your SO or your BFF.

Doesn’t matter if they’re take-out sandwiches and tinned cocktails along the river or candle-lit white linen starched into paper-cut-sharp submission.

Doesn’t matter if it costs a tenner and takes an hour or devours a weeks wages and keeps you there till midnight…

…they are the best.

If however they also happen to provide Persian food you’ll be dreaming about days later, even better and while there’s no shortage of brilliant places to satisfy those Middle Eastern food cravings in London, don’t take that to mean that we couldn’t use another in which to indulge.

Enter stage right, Berenjak.

The first solo project from founder Kian Sanyani, himself the former head chef at Mayfair’s Gymkhana, this Soho sat restaurant blends the ever casual-ever welcoming kebab houses of Tehran with the beautiful seasonal produce of Britain. With a name inspired by the crunchy rice snacks found most often at travelling Iranian funfairs, Berenjak is a place designed for sharing small plates with family & friends in the most delicious and belt-busting of ways.

Kick things off with a house cocktail; the ‘hard’ version of Berenjak’s pomegranate iced tea comes laced with rose vodka, hibiscus and the approval of both David Attenborough for the metal straw and, well, me for the sheer deliciousness of it.

If a dish has caught the eye, the imagination and the bellies of London’s most ardent eaters, perfectly lit photos of it will litter the pages of Instagram…

…so I can do nothing but hold my hands up and shrug un-apologetically when I say here’s another in the shape of the house hummus.

Made with black chickpeas, walnuts, tahini and (one of the best spices you can have rolling around in your rack at home) russet coloured, fruity-yet-tangy sumac, this is hands down the silkiest hummus in town right now. No chunky, rustic texture on this heavy silver platter, just the sleekest mountain of deeply savoury umami flavour you could ever genuinely wish to fall face first into.

Pop your cork with absolute pleasure at Trufflesecco…

Prosecco. Truffles. Two things that have worked really rather well for our neighbours in the valleys of France & the forests of Italy over the past several hundred years and which I’m delighted to report are working equally well for the good folk of Camden town and beyond.

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Billing itself as a place in which ‘to celebrate everyday life in style with a glass of bubbles and a bite of truffles’ and inspired by a trip to the heart-stoppingly beautiful Florence, this newly opened bar on Camden High Street is the perfect place to go with colleagues on a Friday night, girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon or the one you love on a Sunday lunchtime.

Smaller inside than a spot of pressing your nose up against the windows outside might suggest, the interior is darkly lit with a burnished rose gold glow casting everything into bewitchingly intimate shadow; bulbs and vines twist down from the ceiling and row upon row of gleaming glass flutes hang at the ready, impatiently waiting to be filled with chilled golden bubbles.

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A row of stools at the bar make the perfect perch on which to nibble at a sharing platter while chairs at old wooden tables are practically begging for a first date to be sat round them. FYI, you would definitely enter the dating hall of fame if you brought someone here in the first round or two…

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Staff are kind, convivial and passionate about their wares with a menu that beautifully marries cheeses and meats together in a style that makes you long to run away to the continent and spend your time dining in a very Audrey Hepburn-Sophia Loren sort of way. Mortadella with pistachio and burrato with ribbon thin fragments of fresh truffle are especially dreamy and the platters are generous enough for two to split the cost but maybe not the entire contents of; the tallegio cheese dear readers, is worth fighting for every last crumb of.

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As the venue for a leaving do, it was a gorgeous send-off for a gorgeous lady. As the place for summer feasting, it will be every woman for herself to secure a seat at the bar and a heavenly sounding Bellini Popsicle. The sound of corks popping is an unbeatable way of lifting your mood…long may they continue at Trufflesecco.

Pasta & Prosecco at Padella makes a perfect date night in London…

A recent article comparing life in London to that elsewhere in the country made a point of marvelling at the seeming willingness of its inhabitants to queue like a conga line of hungry lemmings at new restaurants and I was reminded of this as I stood, lemming-ing it up with the best of them, outside Padella last night.

Getting there at 6.15pm on a Thursday night when the air was flush with the warmth of spring and the mood of fellow work escapees was high meant there was a good chance the queue would be long and the wait snoozy; fifteen minutes later however and we were in, welcomed by friendly staff who appear to have been plucked straight from the known-only-to-locals, backstreet-cobbled-alleyway, restaurant gems of Milan and deposited in the balmy shadow of Southwark cathedral.

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Billed as the result of a decade long love affair with Italy’s most recognised & adored dish, Padella is descended from the glorious lineage of Trullo, an Italian institution in Highbury where it’s totally reasonable to envy the people lucky enough to call it their local. Whereas Trullo offers dishes from the oven & the charcoal blistered grill alongside other plates however, Padella is about one thing – soft, silky, slippery, saucey pasta. Read More